Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12: 1 Kings 9 – 10; Psalm 130; Proverbs 17:2-3; Acts 8:14-8:40



Overview

            1 Kings: The Lord appeared to Solomon again. He confirmed his promises to him if he would walk in the ways of David with integrity and uprightness of heart. He would need to follow all God’s commands. It so, then God would establish his throne over Israel forever. If he didn’t and went after other gods, then God would remove Israel from the land and destroy the temple. Everyone would know why.
            After twenty years, Solomon finished the temple and his palace. He gave Hiram of Tyre twenty cities in Galilee for the cedar and cypress. Hiram didn’t think much of them. Solomon also used the forced labor to finish other building projects in Jerusalem. He also rebuilt Gezer and other cities. He established cities for his horsemen. The forced labor was made up of the descendants of the people that Israel had not been able to remove from the land. Israelites were soldiers, officials, and commanders. Pharaoh’s daughter had her own house in Jerusalem. Solomon offered sacrifices three times a year, build a fleet of ships. Hiram’s men went with Solomon’s on the ships bringing back gold from Ophir.
            The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon and came for a visit. She had a large company and brought expensive gifts. Solomon answered all her questions and showed her all he had. She was impressed. She praised the Lord who established Solomon and gave him all the wealth. Solomon gave her many gifts.
            Hiram’s fleet also brought gold and other precious products. He used some for the temple and some for making musical instruments. He made gold shields and vessels for his palace. He made an ornate throne for himself. He had so much silver that it became common. The ships sailed every three years to bring back more wealth, apes, and peacocks.
            The whole earth wanted to visit with Solomon because of his wisdom that God gave him. They brought presents. Solomon also gathered chariots and horsemen, which he stationed in certain cites and Jerusalem. He imported horses from Egypt and Kue.
            Psalm: When we hit the bottom, we can call to the Lord to hear our voice. We know that our sins are great and we can’t stand before the Lord. But we can know that he forgives. When we call, we can wait for the Lord and have hope. Change doesn’t happen overnight but we can wait just like a night watchman watches for the morning. Because of his steadfast love and redemption, we can know he will redeem Israel.
            Proverbs: A wise servant will be trusted by a person more than a foolish son. He will have more authority in the house than the son and will share in the inheritance. God tests our hearts just like fire purifies silver and gold.
            Acts: The apostles sent Peter and John to Samaria to check out the new believers. They hadn’t received the Holy Spirit so Peter and John prayed for them, laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Simon, the magician, wanted the same power and offered to pay for it. Peter told Simon his heart wasn’t right thinking he could buy God’s gift. He told him to repent so that he could be forgiven, if possible.
            An angel of the Lord told Philip to go south of Jerusalem to the road going to Gaza. When he arrived, he saw an Ethiopian court official in his chariot reading from Isaiah. Philip asked if he understood and the Ethiopian admitted he didn’t. So, Philip explained the Scripture and told him about Jesus. When they came to some water, the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized. After the baptism, the Spirit of the Lord transported Philip to Azotus and he preached the gospel there and on the way to Caesarea.

What Stood Out

            1 Kings: “And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem” (1 Kings 10:26).
            Psalm: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Ps 130:5).
            Proverbs: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” (Prov 17:3).
            Acts: “He [Holy Spirit] had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).

Insight

            1 Kings: Solomon’s wisdom is touted over and over again. He wrote three thousand proverbs, he could answer all the questions the queen of Sheba proposed. He was successful in all he did. He was so successful that he acquired many horses and chariots. Some of the horses came from Egypt. He also acquired so much gold and silver that silver seemed common and almost valueless. Tomorrow, we’ll learn about his many wives. Though he was supposedly so wise, he seems to have picked and choose which of God’s commandments he would follow. The three that he should have obeyed were given by Moses. “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold (Deut 17:16-17 NIV).
            What happens when we pick and choose the parts of the Bible we want to follow and the ones that we want to ignore? Many of God’s promises are conditional. He told Solomon that if he would keep the commandments Israel would continue to be a nation. If he didn’t, then Israel would be decimated. Solomon started the process that led to Israel and Judah’s down fall by first acquiring horses, gold, and silver. When we compromise on one part of the Bible, it leads to doing the same in others. Instead of being witness for the Lord, we become a hindrance to others coming to faith in Jesus. Our lives become a mess and we don’t know how to get out of it. What we see happen to Israel happens to us on a microlevel.
            Psalm: We don’t usually think about waiting for the Lord and tying it to repentance and redemption. However, when we stray from the Lord and then repent, the road back to normalcy often takes time. An alcoholic seldom wakes up one morning after repenting and becoming sober to find his family in harmony with him. The mess created by sin takes time to get cleaned up. You could substitute various sinful conditions for the alcoholic, such as adulterer, thief, liar, glutton, or narcissist and the same is true. Look at Israel as an example. God’s promises still hold to redeem the nation and people (Ps 130:8) but it has been thousands of years and they are still not living the way God wants. Fortunately, our hope is in the Lord and with his help, things will get better for the one or nation that repents. But, it just takes time.
            Proverbs: We think that pain and suffering are things to avoid. However, these are often the things that God uses to refine us. When we go through difficulties and learn to be steadfast in the Lord, we will come out with hearts that are purer than when we started. That’s why James told us to considerate joy when we face these things (James 1:2-4). We will develop more godly character through these.
            Acts: Here we have another passage about the Holy Spirit that people use to support their particular view of what and how the Holy Spirit works. The way it is usually interpreted by Pentecostals is that these people were Christians (received the Holy Spirit) but had not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit as evidence in speaking in tongues. Since there is no mention of speaking in tongues in this passage, they say that it had to happen because Simon saw the Holy Spirit given. Since other passages mention speaking in tongues and receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 10:44-46, 19:6), this must have happened here also.
            What this passage actually says is that the people believed Philip and were baptized (Acts 8:12). They received the word of God (Acts 8:14). The Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them but had only been baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 8:16). The plain and simple understanding of this passage is: the people in Samaria were not yet Christians though they had believed what they heard. They had responded with baptism but were still not Christians. When Peter and John laid hands on them and prayed for them, they received the Holy Spirit and were now really Christians.
            We don’t know what the apostles said in their prayers or what they said to the Samaritans. Since others speculate about them speaking in tongues, I’ll speculate that Philip hadn’t done a complete job in explaining the gospel and the apostles filled in some very necessary gaps. We run into this even today. A person hears a sermon and then an altar call to receive Christ. They are convicted and go forward. They pray to receive Jesus but have no concept of repentance or surrendering their life to Jesus’ lordship in obedience. They are pronounced a Christian and sent home. This is similar to camp conversions and baptisms. People go home and there is no change in their lives. As one person said, “Their baptism didn’t take.”
            Jesus foresaw this when he asked why people would call him Lord but not do what he said (Luke 6:46). He also indicated that there would be people who thought they were Christians but Jesus didn’t know them (Luke 13:25-28). I have a feeling that Peter and John came to Samaria not only to ensure those who heard were followers of Jesus but to educate Philip. His next encounters didn’t require apostolic follow up. We should not be hasty in proclaiming a person a Christian or making it too easy for them to think they are a Christian.

Application

             We need to be careful when sharing the gospel. There is a simple gospel and there are more details that some need to make sure they understand. I need to trust the Holy Spirit to do the work but not be slack either.

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